It is almost a given these days that India will be chasing a big target in a one day international and they will get there thanks to Virat Kohli’s brilliance. Such has been Kohli’s brilliance in the shorter format that fans like me have started taking his genius for granted. The fear is that we will realize how special Kohli is only when he is gone away. At the moment that seems far away.
Make no mistake India has not seen a better one day batsman. Sachin Tendulkar was one of the greatest – technically perfect, consistent in run making and carrying an average team on his shoulders for almost a decade. On these very pages I have repeatedly stated that nobody understands one day batting better than MS Dhoni and that must put him right at the top of the pile when it comes to Indian one day batsman. Kohli is consistent in run making and technically sound and he understands the grammar of the one day batting as well as Dhoni. That certainly separates him from the rest of the pack.
We are seeing one of the great limited overs players of all time. @imVkohli is that good today.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) October 23, 2016
Kohli is 28. He likely to be at the peak of his batting powers at least for the next six years. He is likely to be playing the game for at least eight more years. Already he has 26 – you read that right- 26 one day international hundreds. He averages 52-again you read that right- 52 over 174 one day internationals. Viv Richards averaged 47 over 187 games. Dean Jones averaged 45 over 165 games. Tendulkar averaged 44. Kohli’s one day numbers are mind boggling and there is no doubt that they are only going to improve significantly over the next few years.
Kohli's 26 ODI 100s:
– 23 in day/night matches
– 22 in wins
– 16 while chasing
– 15 while chasing in D/N matches
– 14 in successful chases
— Bharath Seervi (@SeerviBharath) October 23, 2016
It is just not the sheer number of the runs. It is the manner in which he scores the runs and the occasions on which he has scored the runs that sets Kohli apart. Kohli is no big hitter of the ball but his ability to time and place the ball puts him at a level above everybody else. Look at the wagon wheel of any Kohli innings and you will notice that most of the runs have been scored in front of the wicket. Nobody in world cricket currently cover drives the ball better than Virat and nobody can pierce the gap between mid-wicket and mid-on better than him.
Kohli is a classical batsman who has an amazing ability to improvise at will and find gaps at will. And watch how he runs between the wickets. He has an amazing sense of the field and an amazing ability to convert ones into twos and twos into threes. On these very pages a few months back I had gone lyrical about Kohli’s efforts in the world t20 and the IPL. He has extended this form to the test game and the 50 over game. Currently nobody in the world makes batting look so delightful and so easy.
There is no doubt that we are witnessing a once in a generation player. When he hangs up his boots, and that day I hope is far far away, Kohli will retire as one of the greats of the game. Many pages, I am sure, will be dedicated to his test match batting but I have no doubts that no player will be able to equate to Kohli’s brilliance in the one day game.